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View Full Version : Need some assistance ~ from legal and those familiar with zoning...


TonyNorCal
03-30-2006, 12:21 PM
I am possibly interested in getting a home-based FFL. Unfortunately our local zoning office (unincorporated Sonoma County) is infested with rabid anti-gun people who are incapable of logic and reason once they see or hear the word 'firearm'.

Like CCWs, home-based FFLs are entirely possible in CA. In neighboring Napa and Mendocino counties they are approved without much fuss (just throwing this in, because I know someone reading this will try to tell me they aren't possible, sorry, but that's mistaken...I can refer you to several approved in the past year).

Getting a home-based FFL is really all about local issues. If those get resolved the state and feds basically approve.

So, back to my issue. There is a local ordinance saying no guns or weapons sales from the home. I tried an approach by saying I'd only deal in collectible, C&R type guns, and very infrequently...basically tried to assuage their concerns. No dice. I don't think this is right or just.

So here are my questions...

1.) Is it possible to challenge an ordinance? Or do you just have to take it?

2.) Someone (RK Enterprises, who I called to get FFL advice) suggested I have an attorney write a letter...any thoughts?

Basically looking for legal and experience feedback in dealing with zoning.

Thanks

glen avon
03-30-2006, 12:54 PM
sure you can challenge it, but it's tough. if you will be making a facial challenge, there is generally a very short time to file a chellenge, 90 days or less. and facial challenges are the toughest anyways.

what is your challenge based on? are other similar businesses allowed, but not gun sales? it's not uncommon to prohibit residential gun dealing.

you are going to have a very tough row to hoe.

TonyNorCal
03-30-2006, 1:02 PM
Thanks for the response. I imagine it won't be easy.

Off the top of my head my challenge would be as follows...

1.) Home based busineses are allowed in my zoning area.

2.) While there is an ordinance what I am proposing is sufficiently different from what one would reasonably presume the ordinance is intended to prevent...

i.e. I may say that I intend only to deal (via mail) in collectible firearms (C&Rs, etc)...only by mail...that I won't sell any ammo....could deactivate the firing mechanism...etc....basically present it as non-threatening as possible:rolleyes:

Another idea I had was to propose to only sell collectible receivers (like Garand receivers)...so basically it's a hunk of metal and less dangerous than some of the chemicals the Amway types sell.

unimog_88
03-30-2006, 1:14 PM
........Getting a home-based FFL is really all about local issues. If those get resolved the state and feds basically approve.

That's very true.


So, back to my issue. There is a local ordinance saying no guns or weapons sales from the home. I tried an approach by saying I'd only deal in collectible, C&R type guns, and very infrequently...basically tried to assuage their concerns. No dice. I don't think this is right or just.

Don't use this kind of excuses as your base. The C&R is covered by FFL-03, collect only. NOT BUSINESS SHOULD BE INVOLVED. And the place to do collection is right at home.



So here are my questions...

1.) Is it possible to challenge an ordinance? Or do you just have to take it?

2.) Someone (RK Enterprises, who I called to get FFL advice) suggested I have an attorney write a letter...any thoughts?

Basically looking for legal and experience feedback in dealing with zoning.

Thanks
IMHO, it is possible to challenge an ordinance. But it's pretty difficult.
Personally, If I were you, I will choose another place, where meets the zoning requirements.

saber
03-30-2006, 1:15 PM
I looked online to find the Sonoma County zoning ordinance but it wasn't available. What really is important is the actual language regarding their restriction on firearms sales.

So, lacking some specific information, here is some general zoning information that could help you with some further research.

First, most zoning restrictions usually have some kind of appeals process so if you want to make a change to the zoning requirements, you have the ability to do so.

For example, many zoning ordinances allow a variance process. You might apply for a variance if you want to build your home 1 foot higher than allowed or if a commercial building had fewer parking spaces than required.

You can also apply for something called a conditional use permit. For example, churches are sometimes allowed in residential areas if they can show that they won't have a significant traffic, noise, etc impact.

You can also ask to have the zoning changed on a parcel. Rezonings are done all the time. Depending on the category you are in, you might want to see if there is another zoning category that might allow some kind of firearm sales.

Through these methods, you aren't challenging the zoning code itself (which is extremely difficult to do so once adopted) but changing the requirements as they apply to your parcel.

Here is my recommendation:

1.) Find out the specific language regarding firearms sales
2.) Determine if there is an exception process (conditional use, variance, etc) process
3.) Determine that status of your zoning ordinance. If it is being update (which the web said that it might be), you could see about making changes to it. Doing so would likely mean going to a public hearing and addressing your planning commission or city council.
4.) Contact an attorney (probably one who deals with land use issues) and go from there

unimog_88
03-30-2006, 1:17 PM
1.) Home based busineses are allowed in my zoning area.


But the business types are restricted. Check the city codes. There should be clear statement.:)

grammaton76
03-30-2006, 1:17 PM
Don't use this kind of excuses as your base. The C&R is covered by FFL-03, collect only. NOT BUSINESS SHOULD BE INVOLVED. And the place to do collection is right at home.


I think perhaps the reason he wishes to deal in C&R, is because he can ship straight to people with C&R's and not have to go through FFL's.

I kinda doubt the guy would think he could get away without an 01...

unimog_88
03-30-2006, 1:25 PM
I think perhaps the reason he wishes to deal in C&R, is because he can ship straight to people with C&R's and not have to go through FFL's.

I kinda doubt the guy would think he could get away without an 01...

Exactly, that's my point.

Usually FFL-03 holders are not stupid enough to involve in business-related C&R stuff. Once the things get involved in sell/transfer, FFL-01 is required.:rolleyes:

TonyNorCal
03-30-2006, 1:26 PM
The reasons I listed said C&R collectible rifles is that they may be perceived as less threatening to the zoning people than modern guns. I am fully aware of the differences between an FFL 1 and 3. I was merely trying to present the matter in a way that is less threatening.

Curios and Relics sounds less intimidating than modern.

I am talking about local approval...not ATF liscensing.

unimog_88
03-30-2006, 1:36 PM
The reasons I listed said C&R collectible rifles is that they may be perceived as less threatening to the zoning people than modern guns. I am fully aware of the differences between an FFL 1 and 3. I was merely trying to present the matter in a way that is less threatening.

Curios and Relics sounds less intimidating than modern.

I am talking about local approval...not ATF liscensing.

Yes, sir. I understand your points. But what if the local authorities are good at the (Federal firearm) regulations as you are?

My point is, the C&R stuff is not helpful with reducing the "threatening". It will confuse people.:)

paradox
03-30-2006, 1:40 PM
Talk to your supervisor. That combined with a few weeks of sitting in the front row at the board meetings and speaking during public comment about your cause and gun rights in general will do wonders. Supervisors can change or even eliminate ordinces. They can also re-zone with a simple vote. Bring a collection of your C&R guns to the meetings and give a history lesson of each during public comment (5min per meeting). Show how guns are a tactile artifact of our wider history. Bring friends.

You can do amazing things in local politics with a bit of elbow grease and time.

Can'thavenuthingood
03-30-2006, 1:47 PM
Have you talked with the "Community Development Director"?

In my area the Zoning Book cost me $25 per copy with a zoning map, both from the Planning Commision. They are sold to whoever wants them, developers, homeowners, etc.

Inside is listed "Minor" and "Major" home occupations by trade or skill. Those not actually listed are left up to the discretion of the "Community Development Director".

One item under home business is this:
*There shall be no stock in trade other than what is produced on the premises.

*The home occupation shall not involve storage or use of any environmentally hazardous or fire hazardous material on the premises.


Here the firearms business must be located in the Industrial Zones. Of course I'm in the city. I would think it'd be easier for you in the county. Buy a copy of the Zoning Regulations and get the map too, they may charge you extra. Its deductible.

It also gives you the guidlines for requesting variance and conditional use permits.

Good Luck

Vick

grammaton76
03-30-2006, 2:02 PM
One item under home business is this:
*There shall be no stock in trade other than what is produced on the premises.

Hmm, this makes me think of something. Home-built AR's and AK's... wouldn't they be produced on the premises (i.e. assembled)? They could then be consigned through local FFLs, etc.

*The home occupation shall not invlove storage or use of any environmentally hazardous or fire hazardous material on the premises.

I guess the wood on a C&R gun's stock could be a fire hazard... :)

Can'thavenuthingood
03-30-2006, 2:14 PM
then consigned to FFL's."

I think there you are getting into the manufacture of firearms, a different license for FFL (Type 4?)

The hazardous or fire stuff would be the thoughts of ammo stacked to the roof in the mind of the county bureaucrats that must research and recommend or not recommend your business to the Board of Supervisors. The bureaucrats are there forever, the elected officials come and go.

Vick

Can'thavenuthingood
03-30-2006, 2:20 PM
What I have run into is the "If its not specifically listed, then you can't have it" mentality.

Everything can be addressed at the meetings as previously mentioned. Before you bring anything like firearms or ammo to an official meeting, make sure you have an okay from all concerned.

Have you received your type 01 FFL yet?

Vick

glen avon
03-30-2006, 2:29 PM
...

For example, many zoning ordinances allow a variance process. You might apply for a variance if you want to build your home 1 foot higher than allowed or if a commercial building had fewer parking spaces than required.

variances require findings that he cannot make.

You can also apply for something called a conditional use permit. For example, churches are sometimes allowed in residential areas if they can show that they won't have a significant traffic, noise, etc impact.

those are a zoning matter too. the zone will specify what is allowed as a matter of right, what requires a CUP, and (sometimes) what is forbidden.

You can also ask to have the zoning changed on a parcel. Rezonings are done all the time. Depending on the category you are in, you might want to see if there is another zoning category that might allow some kind of firearm sales.

that is spot zoning, not allowed.

Tony, what zone are you in? you are referring to this, right?

Sec. 26-88-121. Home Occupations.

(a) Purpose. This section provides standards for home occupations. These standards are intended to ensure that home occupations are incidental and secondary to residential use of the site, and are compatible with surrounding residential uses.

(b) Limitations on Use. The following business activities are prohibited as home occupations:

(1) Adult entertainment activities/businesses;

(2) Animal hospitals and clinics; pet care services such as grooming, doggie day cares or kennels of any size;

(3) Automotive and other vehicle repair, services, painting, storage, or upholstery, or the repair of engines, including automobiles, boats, motorcycles, trucks, or recreational vehicles;

(4) Boatmaking;

(5) Commercial cabinet or furniture making, furniture refinishing/antique restoration and sales;

(6) Dismantling, junk, scrap, or storage yards;

(7) Food processing, canning, baking, etc., including catering, or motorized mobile food vendors such as coffee carts or taco trucks;

(8) Gun and weapon sales;

EBWhite
03-30-2006, 2:31 PM
I'd like to do the same thing in glendale, i have not checked yet but from the glendale site, homebusinesses are allowed as long as you do not have customers coming and going.

glen avon
03-30-2006, 2:40 PM
I'd like to do the same thing in glendale, i have not checked yet but from the glendale site, homebusinesses are allowed as long as you do not have customers coming and going.

call the po-lice, you will need a permit from them for a gun biz in Glandale anyways.

TonyNorCal
03-30-2006, 3:12 PM
Tony, what zone are you in? you are referring to this, right?

Sec. 26-88-121. Home Occupations.

(a) Purpose. This section provides standards for home occupations. These standards are intended to ensure that home occupations are incidental and secondary to residential use of the site, and are compatible with surrounding residential uses.

(b) Limitations on Use. The following business activities are prohibited as home occupations:

(1) Adult entertainment activities/businesses;

(2) Animal hospitals and clinics; pet care services such as grooming, doggie day cares or kennels of any size;

(3) Automotive and other vehicle repair, services, painting, storage, or upholstery, or the repair of engines, including automobiles, boats, motorcycles, trucks, or recreational vehicles;

(4) Boatmaking;

(5) Commercial cabinet or furniture making, furniture refinishing/antique restoration and sales;

(6) Dismantling, junk, scrap, or storage yards;

(7) Food processing, canning, baking, etc., including catering, or motorized mobile food vendors such as coffee carts or taco trucks;

(8) Gun and weapon sales;

Glen, yes! That is exactly it.

I have a copy here in front of me.

glen avon
03-30-2006, 3:38 PM
what zone are you in?

TonyNorCal
03-30-2006, 6:15 PM
Glen,


I live in unincorporated Sonoma County. That ordinance you posted is the exact one they gave me. It applies to my zone. Is that what do you mean by zone?

Thanks

artherd
03-30-2006, 8:59 PM
Tony, shoot me an e-mail :)

glen avon
03-31-2006, 7:35 AM
no, I mean which zone e.g., residential, low density residential, which one?

or you can PM me the closest intersection to your house and I can figure it out for you.

artherd
03-31-2006, 7:11 PM
You don't really want a home based FFL, with all the 4th amendment rights abrogation & waivers.

Best to get a commercial zoned location apart from your residence.

paradox
04-01-2006, 5:06 AM
Sounds like a good idea. Has high potential for backfiring, as many supervisor/council meetings are held in the "county/court" type of building, which tends to have tight security (sheriffs with metal detectors), and are often very leary of weapons, for good reason (too many shootings in court rooms). If you do this, make prior arrangements with security at the building; maybe talk to the supervisor ahead of time, to make sure he is sympathetic to your cause and won't call the cops on you.


I'd make sure to talk to folks beforehand (your supervisor and perhaps the sheriff), and don't bring any ammo. Also, leave all firearms locked with one of those project childsafe cable locks at all times so everyone feels warm and safe.

I've seen guys come to my supervisor meetings with all sorts of strange props. The most dangerous was a collection of axes and adzes all nice and sharp.